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PFF high on this cornerback for 49ers in mock draft

Apr 15, 2024 at 12:46 PM

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Analyst Dane Brugler of The Athletic grades former Iowa State cornerback T.J. Tampa as a second or third-round draft pick and ranks him 55th overall on his big board. Pro Football Focus, however, holds a higher opinion of the young defensive back. In his latest mock draft, the site's lead analyst, Sam Monson, has the San Francisco 49ers selecting Tampa with the No. 31 overall pick.

"T.J. Tampa fits the prototype of a 49ers cornerback," Monson explains. "He has had consecutive seasons of very impressive play and allowed just 240 yards on 49 targets last season. The team doesn't necessarily need him to make an immediate impact, but they could certainly use a brighter future at one cornerback spot."

It's noteworthy that Monson labels Tampa as a player who doesn't need to make an "immediate impact" with the 49ers while passing on former Oklahoma tackle Tyler Guyton, whom the Kansas City Chiefs select with the next pick. Most believe San Francisco will seek to bolster its offensive line in the first round, a unit mostly overlooked in free agency.

It's also worth noting that Monson projects former Georgia tackle Amarius Mims, former Duke tackle Graham Barton, and former Alabama tackle JC Latham to be off the board before the 49ers' first selection. Former Penn State pass rusher Chop Robinson is also off the table, selected by the Baltimore Ravens at No. 30 in this mock draft.

Pro Football Focus ranks Tampa higher on its big board than Brugler, listing the cornerback at No. 35 overall and as the sixth-highest graded cornerback. While former Alabama cornerback Kool-Aid McKinstry might be an intriguing option for the 49ers, Monson has the Detroit Lions selecting him at No. 29.

Monson isn't the only Pro Football Focus analyst projecting Tampa to the 49ers. Steve Palazzolo recently did the same in his mock draft.

"Tampa's unique fluidity and size for a cornerback make him worthy of a top-75 pick," reads the analysis from Pro Football Focus' big board. "If he can clean up his footwork, he can be a starting outside cornerback in the NFL with the potential to be an impact player."

While help for the offensive line is a popular projection, San Francisco using its first-round pick on a cornerback wouldn't necessarily be too surprising. The team has been seeking to solidify the outside spot opposite Charvarius Ward. Adding a starting-caliber player would allow Deommodore Lenoir to take over the slot position permanently.

Tampa did not participate in the NFL Scouting Combine due to recovery from a hamstring injury. However, he posted times of 4.52 and 4.55 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the Big 12 pro day.

Monson does have the 49ers selecting an offensive lineman in the second round, using their No. 63 overall pick to add former Yale tackle Kiran Amegadjie.

The analyst acknowledges, "Right tackle was a problem spot for the 49ers last season, even if it rarely cost them in games. Adding options there is a necessity."


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